Meg here for this week’s TUTOR TUES-WEEK! I got a rec curious about how styles come about, so I sat down and started mapping out steps I felt most artists have gone through based on personal experience as well as observation. I feel these steps happen for a reason and lend themselves to our improvement and growth as artists! If your have tutorial recs send ‘em in here or my personal. Keep practicing, have fun, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
I got a mail with this question and instead of working on some reviews for the client, I wrote quite a long answer for it. I thought that it might be helpful for someone so here it is:
Bear in mind that probably every artist will have a different answer to this and there’s no such thing as one correct recipe for finding a style. This is just my opinion based on my experience.
1st and the most important thing is to know your basics. Developing a style should come second after developing your skills. Eg. if you want to draw characters you should start with learning all about properly drawing human figure, anatomy, movement, expression, and so one. And you should learn it as much as you can from life and from photos, not from other artist’s works. If your base is strong, if you feel comfortable with your skill, then start to deriverate it into creating your own style. If you start playing with the figure without basics, you’ll end up with a developed style full of mistakes and at this point it will be hard to correct them. So if you want to draw something with your own style, first study it. Study as hard as you can. Remember that you’ll probably never be perfectly happy with your skill, I don’t think any artist is, and you’ll be learning to draw for your whole life. But you want to be at the point where you feel you know the subject, when you’re comfortable with it and ready to push it forward. When I decided years ago that I want to draw portraits, I started drawing them all the time. And it wasn’t just drawing, I was measuring, studying, checking all distances between elements until the point where I knew them by heart. And years after that, I made a decision that I don’t just want to draw perfect portraits, I wanted to make illustrations with characters and make them unique, make them my own. So having this base, I could start changing things, playing with features and actually making my own characters from elements I already knew how to draw. Now I have a different goal when it comes to what I want to draw, and even though I’ve been drawing for many years, I have to go back to step one. I have to study the thing I want to be good at, to later put it into my works and make a style out of it once again. And this cycle never ends but it definitely gets easier. It’s easier to simplify something complicated than build something elaborate from something simple. The same comes to drawing. It’s easier to simplify your style based on perfect skill than build a perfect skill from a simple style. That’s why so many artists who have a very simple style that might look like kindergarden drawing also have lots of amazing realistic drawings and studies in their archives if you start digging deeper. Of course, not all of them.Alternatively, your style will just gradually develop itself while you’re working on your skill.
2nd thing is to study what you like. If you have your base and you struggle with finding your own style but you can point out artists that you love, study them. But here is important thing: Don’t just copy their works. Study. Try to understand, do it consciously, write down things that you particularly love in their style, find out what is it that makes you love their style. This way you’ll have an understanding of what you like and you can make a decision what do you want to incorporate into your style. You can just pick some things and try them. If you like how someone uses colour in their works, break down their palette. Check it with colour theory, find out what is it that makes this particular palette speak to you, shift it, change it, pick colours that you love and then try it yourself. If you like someone’s linework, study it, draw like them, see how it works with your own hand, see if you’re comfortable with it, feel it and then try it in your own original work. And slowly, you’ll pick up things that feel good and they will become elements of your style.Honestly, it’s really hard to come up with something original that was never done before, so there’s nothing wrong about building your own thing based on other existing things, that’s how everyone does it, consciously or not.
And 3rd, don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you don’t have a style. You’ll always be the last person to notice that you actually have a style. I don’t know how it works, really, but just keep that in mind. I still feel that I don’t have a style, even though lots of people say that they can clearly see it. But there’s nothing wrong about it because it keeps you going forward, searching and pushing your limits. The moment you settle on something because you feel like this is it, you stop growing. And that’s the worst thing you can do. Stay curious, keep going forward, one foot in front of the other. Even if you’re going slow, if it’s forward, everything is fine.